Anyone who drives a licensed private hire vehicle must hold a licence to do so from the city council, in every circumstance. This is because the vehicle remains licensed whether or not it is hired or available for hire.

Private hire vehicles may only be pre-booked, and may not be hailed in the street or stand and ply for hire. Their fares are not regulated by the city council, and must be the subject of agreement between passenger and driver before a journey commences. Southampton's licence conditions require such vehicles to be a colour other than white.

Apply for a private hire driver's licence

Application forms and supporting documents must be submitted by the applicant in person at the licensing office at the Civic Centre, when the forms for disclosure of any criminal record and a check of your driving history with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will be completed. In order to undertake this part of the process you must be able to conclusively prove your identity to our satisfaction. We will not expect your medical certificate to be more than three months old at the date of grant of any licence.

All prospective applicants for hackney carriage drivers’ licences must satisfy the city council, as licensing authority, that they are fit and proper persons to hold such a licence. The council’s policy requires that all applicants:

  • are aged over 21
  • have held full licence for at least two years
  • pass a basic skills assessment
  • pass a BTech in driving skills assessment
  • fully complete the private hire driver's licence application form
  • pass the council’s test of their knowledge of the topography of the city and the responsibilities of a licensed driver
  • provide a medical report from the applicant’s own medical practitioner certifying that they are fit to a Group 2 standard in accordance with the current DVLA medical standards of fitness to drive
  • consent to an enhanced criminal record disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service
  • consent to a driving history check from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

Please note that the evidence of passing the basic skills assessment and driving skills assessment must be submitted prior to the submission of the application form. If you do not actively pursue your application for six months or more, we will treat it as having been withdrawn. You will need to start again if you later wish to become a licensed driver.

It is also the policy of the city council that all licensed drivers obtain a BTech qualification in transporting passengers by taxi and private hire vehicle within six months of the grant of their licence.

Exceptionally, in the case of applicants for a restricted licence to drive specialist private hire vehicles, it may not be necessary for the applicant to complete the topography test.

Criminal Records

The licensing team has a responsibility to ensure that licensed drivers are fit and proper persons to hold such licences, given the circumstances of their employment. In order to assist in making such decisions, a check is made with the Disclosure and Barring Service before a licence application is determined, and thereafter on a three-yearly basis. Applicants will normally be expected to subscribe to the DBS update service and remain subscribed whilst they remain licensed. DBS currently estimates checks will take around eight weeks to complete.

The latest information on the criminal record check process can be obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service; their guidance on dealing with disclosure forms and the applicant’s guide will be of particular interest.

The council has adopted The Institute of Licensing Guidance on determining the suitability of applicants and licences in the hackney and private hire trades as policy with the exception of para 4.42 will replaced by:

A minor traffic or vehicle related offence is one which does not involve loss of life, driving under the influence of drink or drugs, driving whilst using a mobile phone, and has not resulted in injury to any person or damage to any property (including vehicles). Where an applicant has nine or more points on their DVLA licence for minor traffic or similar offences the applicant will be required to undertake driver assessment training as approved by the council. Where an applicant has or reaches 12 points on their DVLA licence for minor traffic or similar offences a licence will not be granted until the applicant/licence holder is conviction free for at least one year and at least three months after the end of any driving ban imposed by the courts and after passing an approved driver assessment.

This will apply this to applicants for all taxi and private hire licences.

Data Protection

Please note that the licensing authority may be required by law to disclose to the appropriate authorities, from time to time, further information relating to applications and licences for the purposes of law enforcement and the prevention of fraud.